ANKARA: Deteriorating living conditions and rising joblessness have left young people in Turkey disillusioned and insecure, with many saying they plan to move abroad to seek work, recent surveys show.
A report by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) released on May 19, Turkey’s National Youth and Sports Day, said that seven out of 10 Turks aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed and rely on their families for survival.
The party blames the government for the high jobless rate and debt problems among youth who make up 15.4 percent of the country’s population.
Eighty percent of the respondents who are unemployed said that they feel alienated from society, while many had to pay back student loans to the state without having found a job.
CHP also revealed that about 6 million potential workers aged between 15 and 29 are unemployed and uneducated, while 20 percent of graduates are without work and have no hopes of finding a job.
The party highlighted the large numbers of well-educated people aged between 20 and 34 leaving Turkey, saying that the rate has increased by 70 percent in the past four years.
Official statistics show that a quarter of Turkish youth were unemployed in the first three months of 2021, while 250,000 workers lost their jobs in February as the pandemic hit the country’s economy.
Ertan Aksoy, chairman of Istanbul-based Foundation for Social Democracy (SODEV), said that rising insecurity in Turkey is pushing young people to move abroad.
“More students are graduating than the market needs,” he told Arab News.
“With 209 universities across the country, the value of university certificates is decreasing,” Aksoy said. “Graduates cannot find jobs. They are either jobless or working in unqualified jobs.”
The resulting “brain drain” is a growing problem for Turkey, with qualified people heading to Europe amid concerns about the country’s economic and political future.
Half of young civil engineers under 35 face unemployment in Turkey.
Another survey by the Istanbul Planning Agency released on Wednesday showed that 87 percent of young people in the country say they cannot find work because they lack key contacts in “critical positions.”
Many graduates find employment as security personnel or motorcycle couriers.
“I was playing music at weddings and ceremonies. But with the pandemic I had to earn money as a courier because of the lockdown restrictions,” Ali Topcuoglu, 25, a musician from Ankara, told Arab News.
“I was planning to buy my first car, but now that is a distant dream. I feel so disappointed because I couldn’t get any state support during this tough time,” he said.
“I’m in a situation where I don’t know which politician to trust anymore.”
According to Aksoy, despair, anger and disappointment among Turkey’s young will influence their voting preferences at the coming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023.
A survey released by SODEV on May 19 revealed that half of the 1,061 respondents still depend on their families for income, while 72 percent of young supporters of the government and its coalition partner and 93.8 percent of the young supporters of the opposition parties believe they don’t earn enough to have a child or provide a child with a good education.
“For the young voters, nobody is indispensable, and about 82 percent of these young voters do not feel any attachment to the political parties that their families support,” Aksoy said, adding that even the supporters of the ruling coalition are feeling the effects of the mismanagement of the country.
Young voters hold the key to Turkey’s political future, with 7 million new voters expected in the 2023 elections.